Stephen Chbosky, American author of the banned book, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” once said, “Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.”
In recent years, many schools have began to ban certain books. Some of those are books for younger audiences: i.e. the “Harry Potter” Series, “Captain Underpants,” and “And Tango Makes Three.” The list is a lot longer for older audiences. Some of these books include “The Color Purple,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Kite Runner,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Are you there God, It’s me Margaret,” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” These aforementioned books are banned because they all include some topics that some deem as sensitive, such as witchcraft, sex, sexual assault, war, racism, homosexuality (in “And Tango Makes Three,” there are gay penguins), and explicit language. Many find these topics inappropriate and therefore feel the need to ban these books. These books are not the only ones that have been banned. There is a long list that you can find on google if you are curious to continue your search.
Fortunately, many of the books that are banned at other schools are not banned at LCHS. Some of the banned books that are read at LCHS are “The Kite Runner,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In recent years, many schools have began going away from the normative list and allowed students to read books that have been banned in past years. This list has been compiled over the years, as more people have began to deem books controversial.
It’s admirable that schools are turning away from banning books and allowing the reading curriculum to be more open. Many of the books with controversial themes are just depicting realities that exist in life. Kids are going to find out about sex one way or another; kids are going to find out about same-sex couples one way or another; kids are going to learn explicit language one way or another. There is no way to shield a child’s innocence forever- might as well make it so that they find out through good literature.
Now, I’m not saying all books that were previously banned should become unbanned. Some of these books are not appropriate and are banned for idealizing behavior or topics that might lead to toxic behavior such as drinking, drugs, and violence. One of these books is the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series. But I mean, come on. These books were asking to be banned when someone decided to publish them. These books have no plot whatsoever and are a complete waste of both paper and space.
Aside from all of this, I’ve noticed a few trends in the books that have been banned. One of the first big things was that books containing LGBTQ+ characters tended to be on the banned list. Some of these books include “And Tango Makes Three” (as mentioned before), “This One Summer,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and “The Color Purple.” I’m not saying first graders should read “The Color Purple,” because it’s true that it is inappropriate for their age, but kids in high school should be allowed to read it. First graders can instead read age appropriate stories like “And Tango Makes Three.” LGBT people exist and kids have to learn about it at some point so why not learn it from a book?
Explicit language is another large issue. I hear bad words every day, whether I am at school, at the store, or reading a book. Bad words exist. It’s not like I read a book and I decide to start mimicking it, cursing every other word that I say. By the time kids actually read books with curse words, they probably already know all the curses anyway. Regardless, if the kid does not know the word, isn’t it better for a kid to learn something from a book rather than a friend or stranger?
Books do not deserve to be banned. Literature that has controversial, everyday topics does not harm anyone. Many books are famous for a reason other than from being banned- they tell the truth about the world that most people are too afraid to talk about. Books are necessary to start a conversation, and sometimes, that first word is needed to start a meaningful conversation today.
Information from ala.org